The American downhill pro is doing his own thing, with the help of some very experienced names in mountain biking.

Neko Mulally has taken a radical approach to solve his frame sponsor issue for 2022: by building his own bike.

The American downhiller, who has ridden for esteemed teams such as Trek, YT and Intense, will be on a custom alloy creation this season.

Using the skills of legendary mountain bike frame builder, Frank the Welder (Frank Wadelton), Neko has managed to create two prototype designs. Both frames are aluminium and use a 4-bar Horst link rear-suspension system.

Read more: downhill mountain biking 

It might be high- or standard pivot…

Neko will be testing both prototypes to see which works best, before committing to a final configuration for the season. The difference? There is a standard and high-pivot design, with Neko scheduled to decide between the two.

Although elite downhill riders know more about what works – and what doesn’t – the technical challenges of designing a new bike, are not insignificant.

Neko has admitted that some of his initial ideas did not work. And he has promised to share these details of these design travails, later in the season. This is something that could help other dashing privateers avoid similar issues, when trying to design their own frame.

Big names – helping out

Beyond having Frank the Welder helping out, experienced team manager Martin Whiteley is also assisting Neko to get his 2022 UCI Elite World Cup downhill campaign going.

The parts spec on Neko’s yet-unnamed frame uses Fox suspension, while he will be rolling Reserve wheels, shod with Maxxis rubber, for the season.

Although bearings aren’t always top of mind for downhill racers, Neko will use Kogel’s low-friction ceramic bearings. That should mean a lower overall maintenance burden and some marginal benefits in lowering internal hub and bottom bracket friction.